Monday, December 27, 2010


I’ve mentioned the Dove Self Esteem Campaign before, I think in Self Esteem Exercises. Its easy to be cynical about their motives – at the end of the day they are still marketing soap!

I think it would be much better received if they were owned by someone other than unilever (who also owns Axe and Fair and Lovely). My understanding is that the brands work independently and develop their own marketing, but many won't spend money to profit a company that objectifies women and speaks against it.

I did a little digging to see how teenage girls feel about their looks. What I found out is that various surveys do seem to conclude that the majority of teenage girls want to change the way they look, therefore I think their campaign has merit. Dove say they are:-
"very commited to freeing the next generation from self-limiting beauty stereotypes".

That might be rather optimistic, as those stereotypes are deep seated and constantly being reinforced. Its been around for a while, but I only saw this video the other day. Personally I think its quite powerful, and says a lot in 75 seconds. What do you think? Has Dove helped women improve their self esteem? Do women take this ad campaign literally?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


-42% of digital videogame buyers purchase games through app stores or cell phone carriers, according to NPD.

-Tourists accounted for 63% of the 12 million Broadway admissionsbetween June 2009 and June 2010, according to The Broadway League.

-The average Vevo viewer spent 85.1 minutes watching music videosthrough the service in November, according to comScore.

-More than 30% of online shoppers purchased movies or videogames during the week of Cyber Monday, reports Compete.

-26% of Xbox 360 users watch video-on-demand or a streaming subscription service (such as Netflix) via their console, says Nielsen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


-31% of kids 6-12 expect to get an iPad within the next six months, says Nielsen.
-Teen girls are less likely than teen boys to feel it's important to be part of the popular crowd (28% vs. 38%), says Varsity Brands.

-Kids 6-11 earn an average $7.35 a week in allowance, finds Mintel.

-33% of high school students have never spoken with a school counselor about college or university , find the non-profit What Kids Can Do, a public education foundation.
-44% of Canadians and Americans  first used wi-fi before their 18th birthday, reports the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Friday, December 17, 2010


-34% of women increase their online dating efforts the closer the holidays get, according to

-Women prefer to do their holiday shopping at stores rather than online (62% vs. 38%), says StrategyOne.

-52% of women exchange gifts with their close friends, reports Women's Health.

-4% of moms own an iPad, finds the Parenting Group.

-48% of women say it usually takes them about an hour to get ready for a party, finds

Thursday, December 16, 2010


-13-17-year-olds spend the most time of all age groups viewing video on mobile phones: 7 hours, 13 minutes a month, according to Nielsen.

-Justin Bieber is the most-streamed music artist of 2010, amassing more than 1 billion video views worldwide this year on sites such as YouTube and MySpace, according to TubeMogul (via Billboard).

-Radio listeners are still more likely to communicate with a station or a DJ by phone (22%) than via text message or Facebook (both 8%), says Edison Research.

-Zynga's newest social game, CityVille, topped 6 million daily active users within 8 days of its launch, according to the publisher TechCrunch. The rate of growth is five times faster than the early days of Zynga's FarmVille in 2009.

-8% of online adults say they use Twitter, with 2% doing so on a typical day, reports Pew Research Center. Find the data, trend analysis and contacts you need in every issue of Entertainment Marketing Letter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


-40% of teen girls buy the same brand of jeans three times in a row, finds Varsity Brands.
-62% of toy purchases are planned, says the NPD Group.

-93% of high school students read their school newspaper on a regular basis, reports Alloy Media & Marketing.

-66% of teens 13-19 ask friends or family members for recommendations on the gifts they buy, says AMP Insights.

Monday, December 13, 2010


-39% of travelers who visit family members over the holidays would rather stay in a hotel than be a houseguest, according to

-63% of Americans and Canadians who own a smartphone and cook use their devices to find recipes, finds

-69% of those aged 65 and older cite the economy as a major source of stress in their lives.
-27% of people have switched to private label pet care products, compared to 75% who have switched to private label household products, says Epsilon Targeting.

Friday, December 10, 2010


-49% of teens 13-19 plan to spend more than $150 each on gifts for others this holiday season, finds AMP Insights in its Holiday Shopping Behavior report.

-71% of families with children under 13 leave a snack or beverage for Santa the night before Christmas, says RedEnvelope.

-87% of kids 6-7 enjoy getting a toy with their kids meals, finds Technomic.

-Barbie tops girls' toy wish lists and videogames top boys' lists this year - same as last, says the National Retail Federation.

-The U.S. imported $5.1 billion worth of toys from China between January and August, according to the U.S. Census.


More and more I find people are pulling the research info that I place on my blog, while I don't mind could you at least perhaps join my blog and reference where you got this info from. I would appreciate it.  Please continue to enjoy my information.

-Women are more likely than men to consider making an extra trip to a store to take advantage of a retailer's sale or coupon (84% vs. 75%), reports WSL Strategic Retail.

-56% of moms prefer healthcare marketing messages that focus on testimonials from patients, says

-11% of moms say other parents are less competitive than they are, compared to 34% of dads who say the same, according to Evenflo.

-The average mom wants to lose 19 lbs., says CafeMom.

Friday, December 3, 2010


-Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the Christmas classic women are most likely to watch every year (34%), followed by A Charlie Brown Christmas (30%), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (28%), and Santa Claus is Coming to Town (8%), says Redbook.
-Women comprise 54% of the TV viewing audience, according to Nielsen.

-Women are more likely than men to plan to purchase a gift card this holiday season (39% vs. 30%), says NPD Group.

-40% of women go to doctor's appointments with information they have found online, according to Ogilvy PR.

-The average woman attends four holiday parties, finds

Monday, November 29, 2010


-Only 1% of consumers have canceled their pay-TV service in favor of getting video entertainment from the Web, reports Frank N. Magid Associates.
-29% of employed adults shop for holiday gifts online while at work, says CareerBuilder.

-80% of 18-34 year olds say it is difficult to own a car during the recession, and 45% are trying to reduce the amount they drive, find KRC Research and Zipcar.

-60% of social media users value the opinions others share online about brands, products, and services, notes Harris Interactive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Prayer For Workers

This beautiful prayer was composed by Blessed Pope John XXIII (1958-63). It places all workers under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker, and asks for his intercession so that we may regard our work as a means of growing in holiness.

A Prayer for Workers

O glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you.
You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God. Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls. Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil. Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as you did.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


-41% of teen girls purchased 10 or more items of clothing in the past six months, according to Varsity Brands and Ketchum Global Research Network.
-23,000 kids under five are injured each year in shopping-cart accidents, finds

-32% of parents worldwide worry about childhood obesity in their own home, says Synovate eNation.

-Boys under age 21 see 37% more advertisements for malt-based alcohol drinks than men over age 21, reports the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University.

-13% of teachers receive official information on how their students fare after high school, finds Deloitte.

Friday, November 19, 2010


-50% of women and 41% of men snoop through their partner's email or phone, according to Men's and Women's Health magazines.

-78% of moms feel it should be against the law to smoke in a home or car if that person has children, finds

-33% of married women believe their pets are better listeners than their husbands, reports

-34% of women say checking Facebook is the first thing they do in the morning, even before brushing their teeth, report Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research.

-Women play online games to "better their scores" (48%), acquire virtual trophies or other prizes (41%), and to forget some of their real-life problems (41%), say Goodmind and Nickelodeon Kids & Family Research.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


-15% of preschoolers ask to go to McDonald's every day, reports the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.
-69% of households with children living at home plan to spend more than $500 on holiday purchases this year, finds Valpak.

-77% of those under 17 think their parents should give them rewards for good grades, says Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

-Mothers spend an average $17 a week on diapers for their youngest child, according to Huggies.

-80% of teens have configured their privacy settings to hide online information from friends or parents, say online privacy agency Truste and Lightspeed Research.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's Five Facts About Marketing To Women

Hello my friends, yes it has been a while since I have posted research information but I think it is about time I start doing it again and regularly because I have been getting a lot of emails from friends and professionals asking me to continue posting research here we go:

-72% of Spanish speaking women have a high-speed Internet connection at home, finds Redbean Society.

-10% of women have downloaded a shopping-related application to their mobile device, say iVillage and SheSpeaks.

-Women make an average of 32 online purchases each year, says Glamour magazine.

-50% of moms will spend over $150 on gifts for each child during the holiday season, according to BSM Media.

-56% of men secretly think they are the smarter one in the relationship, finds Women's Health.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The late Paul Greco from the movie The Warriors....deserves some respect.

The Warriors: he get's no respect.
"Get lost." - The Orphans gang leader.

Everyone has their favorite Warrior. Most would say either Ajax or Swan. Maybe some would say Cochise and a few others might say Vermin. Maybe even a few out there would say Rembrandt was their favorite of The Warriors bunch but if I had to pick my favorite minor character who wasn't a Warrior I know who I'd pick. It would be The Rogues leader Luther, but 2nd place runner up would definitely be the leader of The Orphans. In the video game for The Warriors it turns out his name is Sully. They don't make calling him that clear in the movie and on the IMDB page he's just listed as "Orphan". However if the video game says The Orphans leader's name is Sully that's fine with me. I happen to like the name Sully so for the rest of this post that's what I'll call him.
Why does Sully get held in such high regard as to be awarded second best performance by a guy who's not a Warrior in The Warriors in my book? Well, I'll tell you. In the movie Sully is leader of a classless and clueless little gang who nobodies in the gang's of The City's world. Their turf is a meager bit of the Tremont section of The Bronx. The Orphans are so low class they weren't even asked to represent at Cyrus's big meeting in The Bronx (the borough they live in. oooo dissed.) and they are in no way part of The Riffs gang network (ooooo again in your face Orphans). The Orphans are a gang of small timers and they get no respect. While The Warriors have their gang colors on spiffy leather vests, The Orphans make due with cruddy green T shirts with the word Orphans iron-oned onto them. They look like orphans. Neglected and not well respected.

In the movie, The Orphans are just standing around and then The Warriors come rolling through their turf. At first Sully talks tough and wants to know what The Warriors want. When Swan and Fox make it clear The Warriors don't want any trouble, that the trains are messed up and they're just passing through Sully is about to let them slide. Sully realizes that The Warriors come in peace and just want to get to the train and aren't looking for trouble and he seems happy to let the Warriors just pass on through. Then Mercy shows up and gets rebuffed by The Warriors because she wants one of their vests and she starts trouble between the two gangs. She talks some trash about The Warriors and says Sully shouldn't let them "boogie" through the Orphan's territory. It's never made clear who Mercy is to Sully or The Orphans. Is she Sully's girlfriend? His sister? some random local tramp? Someone who lives in the same building? It's never made clear.

At first it seems Sully has things under control though. He's not going to let Mercy cause any static but she persists and persists. She makes Sully look (and probably feel) a bit like a chump in front of The Warriors and his own gang. That said, he lips off to Swan and poses an ultimatum to him and The Warriors. Swan ignores Sully and his ultimatums and gathers the rest of the guys and they then proceed to "march right through these lame fucks territory." Much to Mercy's delight and Sully's chagrin.
So what's so great about this performance? Two words: "get lost." When Sully say that line i have to rewind it at least once or twice. He says it to Mercy when she starts riding him about letting The Warriors slide. Sully says the line with such a sort of quiet fed up rage that it gets me every time. That and the part where he and the rest of The Orphans catch up to The Warriors and the two gangs are about to have a rumble and he shouts: "You see Warriors! You see what you get when you mess with The Orphans!" The Warriors are outnumbered and Sully is really furious and seeing him holding up his bent up straight razor makes even this sorry looking Bopper seem truly scary. Sully also has a lazy eye. Talks with a thick New York accent. He has a mop of greasy hair and he's pissed because no one seems to take him and his gang seriously and he's fed up and ready to go. Needless to say Sully and The Orphans for all their bark are easily spooked off when Swan throws a Molotov cocktail at their general direction. All in all Sully isn't such a bad guy. He's just sort of lame and against The Warriors he's way out of his depth.
The actor who played Sully was Paul Greco. He had the perfect look for character acting and had a lot of small roles in movies as varied as Crocodile Dundee and Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose. While Paul had mostly small roles in these movies he is probably best known for his part in The Warriors. Some of his other roles included: playing a stooge in Sylvester Stallone's forgettable mobster comedy Oscar. Mr. Greco also played another gangster in the hillbilly revenge epic Next of Kin with Patrick Swayze. He also played a Zealot in The Last Temptation of Christ and a karaoke singer named Raoul in Jim Carrey's oft slept on The Cable Guy. Paul was also an accomplished musician. He enjoyed minor success as the bass player and co-songwriter in the band Chumbawamba from 1992 to 1999. Sadly, Paul passed away from lung cancer in December 2008. He was 53.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My latest illustrated story: Shack In the Middle Of the Forest


Anthony Martino

September 5, 2010

This book was illustrated with Earth Friendly Art Supplies.

Page 1.

Far away from the city, there is a house, well not really a house but more like a cabin or a shack. It sits on 25 acres which is a small part of a larger forest, which unbeknownst to its inhabitants is unfortunately threatened with construction development on all sides.

Page 2.

Inside the shack lives an old man with his dog Banjo.
The old man’s face is a little wrinkled and his back is a little bent over.
He has a long beard, a pointy nose and a nasty attitude to boot. Some say he’s lived in the forest all his life which I would say is close to one hundred years. He has no friends or family except for his dog Banjo.

Every morning, the old man drinks his tea while Banjo sits and waits with his leash in his mouth hoping the old man will take him for a walk. The old man walks Banjo because he feels somewhat obligated; the truth of the matter is the old man does not like to wander off into the forest because he finds the air heavy with moisture and fuzzy with haze. Plus in the old man’s own words, “The forest’s inhabitants are nothing but a nuisance!”

Page 3.

Most mornings, the old man and Banjo begin their walk down the brown wooden path that leads from their shack into the woods. The old man always checks the door knob before he leaves to make sure the door is locked. He’s afraid that an unwelcomed guest such as a raccoon could sneak in looking for food.

Page 4

“Speak of the Devil!” the old man says.
“There is PunkaDu the spoiled raccoon feasting on my garbage and then he poos everywhere!”

Page 5.

In the distance, a grey mother wolf can be seen with her cub. “This is odd, wolves typically hang around in packs like some sort of street gang usually up to no good,” says the old man to himself.

Page 6.

To the old man’s right, he runs into the white tail dear twins. In fact the forest is actually named “White Tail Deer Park.” The old man has no use for the deers. In his opinion they do nothing but stare. “Take a picture it will last longer!” the old man screams out to the deers.

Page 7

A little further up the old man and Banjo run into two grizzly bears. Banjo likes the grizzlies, with their big heads and long fur they kind of look like big bushy dogs. But the old man will have none of it. He holds on to Banjo tightly as the old man slowly walks past the bears. The old man thinks to himself, “Those damn grizzlies with their keen sense of personal space and pride, think they own the gosh darn forest. I’m walkin here! I’m walkin here!” shouts the old man as he walks past the grizzly bears.

Page 8.

Suddenly they run into a Big Brown Buffalo, this startles the old man. He has not seen a buffalo in many years. The buffalo reminds the old man of his childhood, he remembers herds of buffalos blackened the flat lands of the forest and when they moved it sounded like distant thunder. “Funny the old man thinks to himself, I never stopped to ask myself what happened to all the buffalo.”

Page 9.

To the old man’s surprise, in a quick instant he finds himself flying through the air because he has just tripped over a pile of broken sticks. As the old man flies through the air, he notices that the broken sticks belong to natures self proclaimed engineer, the beaver. “Not only are you North America’s biggest rodent, but you’re also North America’s biggest jerk!” shouts the old man in anger.

Page 10.

Banjo likes to take a water break by the river. As Banjo leans over to lap up some fresh water, the old man is startled by the Salmon who jump out of the water as they swim upstream. The male salmon come back to the river where they were born once a year in order to fertilize the females. This will then allow the females to lay their eggs underneath the river’s gravel.
“Darn perverts,” the old man mutters to himself.

Page 11.

At this point, the old man and Banjo begin walking back toward their home. This is usually where the old man sees, who he likes to call, “the crazy Indian Chief”. The old man calls him this because the Indian always seems to be talking to himself and when he is not talking to himself you can see him talking to the sky, the river, the plants or the animals. From the distance the old man could hear the Indian muttering the following, “Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to the entire world. I thank you for this wonderful forest and all its creatures.”

“Crazy Indian,” the old man thinks to himself.

Page 12.

As the old man and Banjo approach the end of their walk, a mischievious owl swoops down mistaking the old man’s bald head for a delicious meal. From a distance the old man`s head with his protruding ears looked like a hairless guinea pig to the owl. Startled, the old man quickly waves his fist in the air scaring the owl away.

Page 13.

Tired but feeling somewhat satisfied from their long walk, the old man and Banjo arrive home.

Page 14.

The old man figures that his little buddy (or should I say his only buddy) Banjo is probably hungry after their long walk, so he fills Banjo`s food dish with sheep tripe dog food. Apparently it smells terrible but tastes delicious.

As he is feeding Banjo the old man is interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Who on earth would come to my house?” wonders the old man.

Page 15.

As the old man opens the door, there is a man standing there wearing a hard hat and holding a contract in his hand. “Hello Sir, I work for a company called Extinction. We would like to make some changes around this forest in order to make it more habitable for people. We’ll need to do some building to make this happen but cannot begin building what we will call White Deer Tail Community Park until we get your signature on the dotted line of this contract,” explains the man with the hard hat.

The old man takes a moment to think about it and then asks, “So if I sign your contract can you confirm the following for me:

The racoon will stop eating my garbage?
The wolves will stop roaming the forest like some type of street gang?
The white tail deer will stop spying on me?
The grizzly bears will stop acting like they own the forest?
The beaver will stop leaving piles of sticks everywhere?
The Salmon will stop behaving like a bunch of perverts? I want a respectable forest!
And those darn owls will stop pecking at my bald head?”

The man looks at the old man straight in the eyes and says, “Good Sir, you’ll have no more of nature’s interruptions. Plus we’ll even throw in a signing bonus; instead of this little shack you live in, we’ll build you a great big house.”

“Great! Where do I sign?” says the old man.

Page 16.

With the sound of the birds singing outside the window, the old man decides to lay down for a nap.

Page 17.

Just as quickly as the old man lay down to sleep, he was awakened by sounds he had never heard in the forest before. It sounded like, traffic jams, city ambience, jet engines and loud machinery. “But wait, here in the forest?” the old man asks himself.

Totally frazzled by all the noise, the old man called out for his dog Banjo. “Banjo! Banjo! Where are you?” shouted the old man.

Page 18.

The old man could not find Banjo in the house, so he opened the front door still shouting out Banjo’s name.

But what the old man saw next left him in complete shock.

Page 19.

The Indian Chief was standing in front of the old man’s house and behind him the entire forest was gone. There were no more trees, shrubs, or flowers. No more animals roaming the land, fish in the water or birds in the sky.
There was no more green, brown, blue, yellow or red. Just shades of grey.
None of this was familiar to the old man, except for the Indian Chief who stood there with a tear in his eye.
The old man has always ignored the Indian Chief, but this time he asked him, “What has happened?”

The Indian Chief answered, “Before there was a great forest which included all its inhabitants from the little flower to the birds in the sky, from the ground we walk on and the air that breathes life into you old man and every other living thing, but suddenly a great plague swept the land, the plague is called greed. It came so quickly and it had the letters E-X-T-I-N-C-T-I-O-N written all over its army of bull dowsers, feller bunchers and chainsaws. It destroyed every living thing in its path.”
The Indian continued, “It did not discriminate and took no mercy on any living thing.”

After hearing this, the old man had a huge lump in his throat and he could barely put the words together when he asked the Indian Chief, “Did you see my dog Banjo?”

“As I said, old man it took no mercy on any living thing in its path,” replied the Indian as a tear trickled down his cheek.

Page 20

“Oh my God, what have I done!” thought the old man. “I...I...I didn’t know!
I had the power to stop this but instead I let it happen. They are all gone...even my little Banjo,” cried the old man.

Page 21.

The old man then let out a scream so loud that it shook both heaven and earth!

Page 22

The old man’s scream was so loud, that he awoke himself from his dream.
He could smell the green grass from his window and he could hear the birds singing outside.
And like he does every morning, his little buddy Banjo sits by his bed with his leash in his mouth hoping the old man will take him out for a walk in the forest.

Page 23

Suddenly much to Banjo’s surprise, the old man leapt to his feet, picking Banjo up in his arms shouting, “I LOVE YOU BANJO!” as he gave Banjo the biggest kiss.

“The old man has finally lost his mind,” Banjo thought to himself.

Page 24

This morning, the old man thought he would do something a little different on his walk with his dog Banjo. He stopped to smell the fresh air, enjoy the cool river breeze as it blew across his skin and he marvelled at the beautifully coloured leaves in the trees. He even said hello to all the animals but I think the biggest surprise of all was that he sat to talk to the Indian Chief for a while.

And the Indian Chief shared a story with the old man that went something like this:

Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we
share the Earth:
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds,
winged ones,
swimmers, crawlers,
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.

And on this day, the old man made a promise to the Indian Chief, that as long as he’s alive, he will never sign over the shack in the middle of the forest to anyone.

The End

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


-Teens send and receive an average 50 text messages a day, reports the Pew Internet.

-Asian (28%) and Hispanic (22%) parents are most likely to sleep in the same room as their children, compared to 15% of Black and 8% of White parents, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

-(this applies to Americans)63% of school lunches served to students are free or purchased at reduced prices, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

-One in three teens has a driver's license at 16, finds the Federal Highway Administration. Ten years ago it was one in two.

-27% of children visiting the ER with dog-bite related injuries were bitten by their own dog, says

Friday, September 3, 2010

Today's Five Facts About Marketing to Women.

-12% of women have interrupted a workout to read/reply to Facebook or Twitter, says Women's Health.

-Women are more likely than men to use Facebook to manage their social lives (41% vs. 34%), says ExactTarget.

-Two in three moms (62%) have purchased back-to-school clothing for their child because it reminds them of something they wore at their kid's age, according to Parents magazine and Lands' End.

-52% of moms take more than 300 photos over the summer, says Rayovac.

-74% of women age 35-60 first turn to the Internet to diagnose medical ailments, compared to 44% of men the same age, says Flexcin International

Monday, August 9, 2010

What’s your social media guru personality type?

Reflecting on many responses I received in regards to my previous blog post about being judged on social media expertise, It brings to my attention, all the different (yet ‘classifiable’) personality characteristics that are prevalent in some of the most recognizable social media gurus on the web. Now I’m not going to get as crazy with this to go as far as classifying a Myers-Briggs type, but I will make this enjoyable to read. Now get on and start sizing up your favorite social media guru’s.

What’s your social media guru personality type?

The Regurgitator – This type of social media guru lives for Twitter and posts, on average 42 Tweets per day, most of which are RTs, containing a slim to in-existent amount of original content (when they do, it is basically a link to a blog post where they regurgitate more information they’ve collected from other people). “Gurges”, as I like to refer to them, will attempt to drive traffic to their poorly arranged websites (usually ending in a .net because the .com version of their domain was unavailable and they were too unoriginal to come up with another one).

The Self Loving Douche – This can be both male and female (just to clarify, since I rarely hear chick’s referred to as douchebags). The characteristics of this social media guru are very one-sided, and by one-sided, I mean, all they care about is themselves. You can identify these types of gurus by looking at their Twitter profile pages (actually going to their url). On their profile pages you will most-likely find an incorrectly scaled, low-res background image (usually tiled) that shows action shots of them engaging in some type of cult inauguration public speaking event. These gurus are tweeting affirmations who love to thank each and every follower for RTing, but only looking at this as an opportunity to parlay the same message (that they initially posted) over, and over, and over again. Ex: “Thanks so much! RT @user1 @user2 RT @methedouchebag blah blah blah blah blah”. Remember, its not about you, its about them.

The Righteous Warrior- These social media guru personality types seem to be very well perceived and respected (perhaps in fear of being targeted). The Righteous Warrior scours the web in search of other social media gurus to inflict un-requested critique and opinion on other social media gurus. This guru doesn’t like to use the term “guru” and will cringe at the notion that anyone would ever consider themselves, (or social media at that) a defined industry profession. Righteous Warriors love to talk about their feelings and will frequently post tweets about how they’re dying for a hot shower or a beer. They also feed off of fellow warriors, posting what should be private conversations for their 50K followers to see, in hopes of drawing attention to the oh-so-important issues at hand. More than often referred to as a “consultant” or “strategist”, these gurus are usually too scared to list their client line-up or reference any previous campaigns that they may or may not have worked on.

The Hot Chick sans any other redeeming qualities - Twitter comes secondary to this social media guru, with most of the action happening on Facebook (because Twitter only lets you showcase one photo). Hot chick guru started in social media back in 2003 with MySpace and is master bulletin poster. Hot Chick is huge on YouTube with her channel containing everything from how to get that smoky eye look to a video-photo slide show of her most recent head shots. Since her transformation into a brunette, Hot Chick has discovered and because of her ridiculous hotness, has been signed on to star in her own reality show, where she tells you about all the awesome iphone apps Ashton Kutcher is downloading.

The Strategist with no Strategy – The SwnS. Going through a mid-life crisis, this guru is possibly a former creative, perhaps with an account or b2b background. “Principal” of super social media llc, this guru is great at talking, extremely articulate and has talked his way through scoring a second round of funding. Notorious plagiarizer, loves PowerPoint but has never touched Keynote. The Strategist with no Strategy gets your business by talking you through the “Social Media Marketing” wiki and re-branding real strategists’ white papers. This guru has 5 interns working for them, conjuring up bullet points on the top-level processes of navigation for social media tools. Loves to use acronyms and trend words like “2.0″ for everything; “BMW 2.0, iPhone 2.0, Vodka-Tonic 2.0″.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Managing brand performance in financial services

In recent years, corporate brands in financial services businesses, both retail-facing and B2B, have become a major factor in the attraction and retention of clients, talent, partners and capital. In this industry it has not always been so, but in today’s crowded, highly competitive global marketplace, a strong brand can be a major source of advantage. Corporate branding has become particularly important in service industries, where economic value is delivered through intangibles and offerings are often seen as interchangeable.
Why have corporate brands come to matter so much in financial services? Much of the answer to this question lies in the growing understanding among corporate executives of what brands actually are and how they add value.
Not so long ago “Brand” might have been defined as “An advertised ‘promise’ linked to a logo and a graphic/visual identity. Advertising makes your brand popular” This definition, while not entirely incorrect, misses the interplay between brand and business strategy, and the link to business economics.
Today, the meaning of “Brand” is linked more closely to value creation: “A Brand is an intangible asset yielding economic returns that is used to attain, over time, a targeted reputation. This is accomplished through management of both the actual experiences delivered to stakeholders and the visual and verbal communications used to express the company’s aspiration and value proposition to these stakeholders.”
The role of brands in overall reputation management has become much clearer in recent years. Brand management includes defining the targeted experience of customers, as well as capturing and conveying strategic intent to all stakeholders including clients and prospects; employees and the broader pool of talent; shareholders; and the broader investment community.

Thirty years ago, the corporate brand for a financial services company was something advertising people worried about, something external to the business itself. Corporate brand management in the industry essentially consisted of periodic – or more accurately, episodic – corporate brand image advertising campaigns, perhaps accompanied by a shift in visual branding elements. Funding justification was often based solely on what competitors were spending, rather than on actual return on investment.
Today, industry leaders have come to understand that brands play a much bigger role in achieving and sustaining success than in the days when virtually all brand issues were delegated to the advertising department.
This shift has come about in part because of the realization among investors that a growing percentage of a company’s financial value, especially in service industries, is accounted for by intangible assets rather than physical assets like real estate, plant and equipment. Intangible assets include the quality of client relationships, employees expertise, intellectual capital, proprietary software and, yes, brands. According to valuation experts, these intangibles can account for as much as 30% of the firm’s total value.
The process of realization was accelerated by the rise of the service-based economy and consolidation within industries, not least in financial services, that occurred in the 80s and 90s, and which is again in full swing. The mergers and acquisitions that marked this period involved placing a value on intangible assets – which began to raise significant questions about, and subsequent exploration of, the value of brands.
Today, it is understood that brand strategy and brand management are fundamental aspects of business strategy and business management. Brand decisions are no longer relegated to the advertising department; most CEOs, divisional heads, corporate strategists and even finance and accounting departments are now intimately engaged in managing the brand assets of their company.

The importance of brands as financial assets and a source of financial success is much clearer than it was even ten years ago. Today the key question should not be whether a brand has real financial value, but rather what skills and level of investment are needed to manage the corporate brand/brand portfolio for optimal financial return.
With this shift of focus there has emerged a need for developing and integrating skill sets that enable real and professional management of brand performance. Many companies are finding that achieving excellence requires a careful combination of both internal resources and specialized external expertise. The increasing professionalization of the brand management function has also led to the creation of the same sort of diagnostic, analytic and measurement tools around brand performance that already exist for the management of other assets and functions.
One of the greatest challenges facing executives in this area is that good brand management now requires a wide variety of skills, from the creative to the analytical to the financial. This must be taken into account when considering the backgrounds of CMOs and brand managers, the composition of their teams and the overall governance of the function within the corporate structure.
Success through good brand management
Companies that take on the challenge of brand management early and effectively can reap significant competitive advantage and even create dramatic turnarounds in market position. One excellent examples in the financial services industry is MasterCard. The focus was investment and top talent on driving brand performance for competitive advantage. The results of a good strategic move are often evident only over time, and continued investment in a winning concept is vital to success.
MasterCard vs. Visa
In the case of MasterCard, for decades the credit card company had struggled against its main rival, Visa. Visa had achieved and sustained competitive advantage over MasterCard by:
1. Finding, keeping and investing behind a clear benefit of high relevance to cardholders at that time: ubiquity of acceptance, nicely captured in their “Everywhere you want to be” message
2. Contractually obligating, unlike MasterCard, its card issuing member banks to invest a specified percentage of card revenues in building the brand
3. Effectively relegating the MasterCard brand to a second tier among shared member banks through #2 and among cardholders through always positioning its brand in communications against “upscale” American Express and never directly against MasterCard
For two decades, the MasterCard team tried to break out of the “perceptual lockdown” Visa had managed to impose on the MasterCard brand. After many attempts to find an angle that could beat ubiquitous acceptance, in the mid-1990s the MasterCard team identified a fundamental shift in values emerging among cardholders that could open an avenue for their brand to beat Visa on relevance to consumers. That lever was a shift away from aspiring to live a rich lifestyle and using a “prestigious” card, toward enjoying the rewards of everyday life and using a card for everyday payments.
The team realized that in this context the brand’s greatest relevance could be not its functionality (including ubiquity), but rather the authentic things it enables people to achieve in their everyday lives. These insights led to the emotionally compelling “Priceless” campaign.
This brand turnaround resulted in significant share gains for MasterCard for the first time in years. It contributed to MasterCard’s successful IPO and the subsequent run up in valuation. Last but not least, least, it resulted in a copycat brand communications effort by VISA (“Life takes VISA”) indicating that Visa is now attempting to play catch up on achieving everyday relevance.

Implications for the future
In closing, here are a few thoughts about what’s needed to properly manage your company’s brand for financial success:
•Recognize and embrace the full complement of skills now needed to achieve excellence in brand management from the analytical to strategic to creative competencies.
•Assemble a crack team to manage the brand, or brand portfolio, performance to the highest standards.
•Achieve and sustain strong brand relevance with customers; brand differentiation is not enough.
•Discover the right concept and sustain investment behind it over an extended period of time, but be prepared to modify or alter course based on shifting customer values.
•Drive the brand concept through to the experiences delivered to each stakeholder group, not just communications.
•Ensure brand strategy is part of the business strategy across the organization.
•Put in place the metrics to measure market and financial performance of your brand(s).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

EmailThe 7 Most What The??? Origins of Iconic Pop Culture Franchises

Every one of us has, at some point, watched a weird-ass movie or simply looked back over an insanely original idea and said, "How the hell did they even come up with that?"
The answer is often less original, and way stranger than you could have possibly imagined.
Super Mario Bros, Alice In Wonderland and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

The Story You Know:

Mario is such a staple of the video game landscape that we become blind to how weird the whole thing really is. Why is it all about mushrooms? Why would mushrooms give Mario superpowers (including the ability to change size)?

Well, it's because there are in fact mushrooms in the real world that will give you superpowers. Or rather, they'll make you think you have them, right up until the cops wrestle you to the ground.
What Inspired It:
According to Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto himself, it came from one hell of a predicament. In early runs, the developers found that Mario was too large, so in order to make Mario grow and shrink throughout the game they decided to add "magic mushrooms" for him to snack on like the titular character in Alice in Wonderland.

Why would anyone--from Lewis Carroll to Nintendo--associate mushrooms with getting smaller or bigger? It's because of hallucinogenic toadstools like Amanita Muscaria, as folks who have ingested them know, screw with your perception of size.
Of course, Nintendo was probably just basing their mushrooms off of the idea forwarded by Carrol. It's not like they designed the ones in the game to look exactly like the psychotropic that would make a plumber think he was shrinking and turning into a giant in the real world.

Except they totally did... Amanita Muscaria bear a striking resemblance to Super Mushrooms from Mario. Nintendo insists that these similarities are purely coincidental, presumably because they don't want to get sued by the parents of whose kids find these mushrooms and assume they bestow the power to break bricks with their fists.
Either way, it really puts the bizarre world of Mario's "Mushroom Kingdom" in a whole new light.

That must have been some really good shit.
A Nightmare on Elm Street - A True Story

The Story You Know:
A Nightmare on Elm Street boasted a plot that was two parts Halloween, one part Jason and a dash of Christopher Nolan psycho-noir. It introduced a whole generation of children to insomnia in the form of Freddy Krueger, and is arguably the only decent movie Wes Craven ever made.

What Inspired It:
A true freaking story.
While Freddy Krueger is the amalgamation of a bully from Craven's youth and a homeless person, the concept of people actually dying from their nightmares is a reality all too horrific for Southeast Asian men.

Wes Craven apparently got the idea for A Nightmare on Elm Street after coming across a string of articles in the LA Times from the 1970s and 80s about an alarming number of young, able-bodied, mentally-sound men from Southeast Asia who died in their sleep the most horrifically way possible: via nightmares.
It would all start with a bad dream so distressing that they would spend days trying to stave off sleep. Once they eventually succumbed to Mr. Sandman, they let out a bloodcurdling scream, and died hard.

It is a condition known as SUDS, one of those medical acronyms doctors use to hide the unsettling damned-if-we-know nature of the real name: Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome. Contrary to what the films told us, it typically attacks healthy adolescent men regardless of sexual promiscuity. Between 1982 and 1990 alone, 230 Thai men died from this condition. It is known throughout Southeast Asia as bangungot, dab tsog, laitai, hukuri and other names that you will dread for the rest of your life if you are even just a fraction Southeast Asian.
Only some quick defibrillation has proved effective against this monster, but for real... how many people have ready access to a defibrillator? In fact, SUDS nearly makes Freddy Kruger seem less threatening in comparison. At least we know that the Freddy can be killed.

The Sixth Sense - A Kids' Show on Nickelodeon

The Story You Know:
Haley Joel Osment sees dead people, then it is revealed that *SPOILERS* Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time and somehow never notices that other people aren't talking to him. *END SPOILERS*

After a few years he started seeing M. Night Shyamalan's career, and then his own.
It became one of the highest grossing films of all time and would be nominated for six Oscars, all seemingly on the strength of that one mind-blowing twist. This baffled some critics; after all, wasn't the whole thing just a two hour-long Twilight Zone episode, complete with the gimmicky revelation at the end?
What Inspired It:
The truth is quite a bit stupider than that. This Academy Award-nominated classic was inspired by something off of the same children's television network that introduced the world to Rugrats, Clarissa Explains It All and Doug. Yup, Nickelodeon.

Technically, SNICK.
It turns out that Shyamalan was one hell of an unofficial member of the Midnight Society in the 90s, since his magnum opus was inspired by an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
The episode in particular, "The Tale of the Dream Girl", is basically the same story as The Sixth Sense except it was written for the same audience that followed Salute Your Shorts.

Just like The Sixth Sense, "The Tale of the Dream Girl" tells the story of a kid who is able to eerily and unwillingly communicate with the dead. In this case, his name is Johnny Angelli, and he's portrayed by the same pretty-boy who played Scott Hope on Buffy. At first it appears that Johnny is being stalked by a girl who is clearly way out of his league, but not only does Johnny think that she's dead, there's something strange going on with Johnny. You see, he has this ring which he can't get off his finger, nobody seems to recognize him at work and his mother is so pissed that you would think he wrecked the car, or something.

Only Johnny's sister believes in him. In fact, she's the only person who has really been speaking to him. Oh, and there's this dramatic scene with the ring, and a totally unexpected--because it was original--twist where... well...

Five years later, Shyamalan gets nominated for an Academy Award for Best "Original" Screenplay.
Hell, considering the work he's done since then, it might pay for him to get some more Are You Afraid of the Dark episodes on DVD (it had a nice run of seven seasons) and see what else he can dig up.

There's enough cinematic gold in this season alone to keep Shyamalan busy for decades.
Also, it's worth noting that "The Tale of the Dream Girl" aired on March 26 1994, which means Shyamalan had to be at least 23-years old during that life-changing Saturday night he was at home watching SNICK.
Predator - A Rocky Sequel

The Story You Know:
It was a B-movie about commandos mated with a B-movie about an alien which resulted in a B+ movie about a commando-hunting alien. The film starred two future-governors, Apollo Creed, a bromantic Bill Duke and even features Jean-Claude Van Damme in a cameo as... you guessed it, the Predator.

Come to think of it, he does look like a predator.

What Inspired It:
Rocky V, or at least a joke from the 80s about how bad it would be should it ever get made. It was funny as hell until Stallone had to go and spoil everyone's fun by actually filming it.

As far as Hollywood was concerned, the Rocky Balboa Universe reached an insurmountable apex on Christmas Day, 1985. In Rocky IV the dude defeated Ivan Drago, avenged Apollo and won the hearts and minds of the Soviet people to end the Cold War. Yes, it was a good moment to be Rocky and/or Stallone, but once Drago tumbled out of the ring, it was widely believed that there was absolutely nothing left for the Italian Stallion to do but collapse under his own weight. With Drago smote, who else remained on Earth for the Stallion to challenge? No one, that's who.

This gave birth to a running joke around Hollywood that Rocky "would have to fight an alien in Rocky V." But screenwriters Jim and John Thomas eventually found this meme and were smart enough to realize that the idea of Stallone fighting an alien in Rocky V would be freaking brilliant 80s-perfection.

The duo "took the joke very seriously and turned out a marvelous screenplay," with the working title Hunter. After producer Joel Silver coaxed Hunter into spending a wild weekend with Commando... the classic science-fiction action film Predator was born.

Hell, they even got Apollo Creed to come get killed by the bad guy again in a key scene. You've got to stop getting yourself into these situations, man.